The last year has made us all more aware of how important our local high street is to community. From popping into a local family-run bakery for a loaf of bread to purchasing a quirky gift from a boutique, shopping locally can help support business owners, not to mention help to strengthen, rebuild, and boost our economy following the pandemic. A recent Visa survey found that for every £10 spent with a local independent business, over £3.80 of that circulates back into the local economy.
Shopping at businesses in our communities, whether in-person or online, can have a tremendous impact. These are the locally owned boutiques, gift stores, craft shops and eateries that provide unique products and a personal touch. Less travel means shopping locally is better for the environment, plus independent shops and food purveyors source much of their stock locally, too.
As Luella HQ is based in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, we’ve shone a light on some of our favourite independent shops in the Cotswolds.
Situated in five of the most beautiful locations in our region – Tetbury, Cirencester, Malmesbury, Clifton Village and Bath – French Grey sells a wonderful selection of unique jewellery, gifts, soft furnishings and home accessories. The Clifton Village shop is even joined by their sister vegan café, East Village, where you’ll find a counter full of lovely homemade cakes, sandwiches, great coffee and delicious hot chocolate.
From humble beginnings over 200 years ago, Jesse Smith is a local butcher with a difference. Jesse’s Farm Shop, found in Cirencester, is the latest incarnation of the business and a one-stop-shop for quality local produce. It boasts a traditional butchery, a well-stocked deli counter, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as artisan bread, preserves and pickles. A bonus is the popular on-site coffee house making delicious food to eat in or takeaway.
This charming independent department store is a real Aladdin’s cave, offering a delightfully eclectic choice of vintage interiors and homewares, toys, cards, clothing and toiletries. Each room is beautifully styled, and the store has a lovely, relaxed ambience as you wander around. What’s more, you’ll find a cosy in-house café to enjoy a coffee and a bit of ‘me’ time. There are stores in Nailsworth and Tetbury.
Octavia’s is an award-winning independent bookshop found on historic Black Jack Street in the heart of Cirencester. Often hosting book signings and children’s events, you’ll discover everything from baby board books to fab teen fiction. Adults are not neglected though, as there are plenty of titles for grown-ups, including bestsellers, beautiful reference books and great book club choices.
A true family business, Hobbs House Bakery has five generations of baking experience. At the heart of the business is their purpose to bake what the customer wants. It is people and local community which underpin the bakery’s lasting values and their expert team of bakers in Chipping Sodbury produce an exceptional range of high-quality breads, pastries and confectionery. There are now four further stores in Bristol, Nailsworth, Malmesbury and Tetbury.
Finally, we couldn’t talk about our favourite independent shops without mentioning our sister retail company, Sassy & Boo. Established by Alison Townshend in 2005, Sassy & Boo has stores in Bath, Tetbury, Chipping Sodbury, Malmesbury, Woodstock, Bradford on Avon, Frome and Cirencester. Luella provides Sassy & Boo with fresh, new collections throughout the year, but the stores are also home to an array of stylish guest clothing, footwear and accessory brands. Our Sassy team consistently put their customers first to ensure they enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle experience, as well as plenty of styling and purchase advice. Everything a Sassy lady needs can be found in one of Alison’s stores.
Independents make our towns truly unique, and the variety of shops and cafés is what keeps our local retail experience different from that in larger cities, where sometimes only high street chains are on offer.
Local businesses often rely on word of mouth, so expect to find great customer service – whether that’s tracking down a particular product or making sure a customer is as comfortable as possible.
Shopping small and supporting local business doesn’t necessarily mean forgoing all online sites though. While the pandemic may have severely restricted in-person shopping, many smaller brands have adapted to changing customer needs – pivoting to online stores, selling on social media and introducing contactless delivery.
Did you make a conscious effort to shop locally during lockdown? Perhaps the pandemic made you re-assess your shopping habits, or you enjoyed your trip into town for weekly essentials and a newspaper?
We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories on this topic. Tag us on Instagram @luella_fashion or Facebook @luellafashion using #luellalovesthehighstreet.